And the winner of The Beast duology is…
Congratulations! You should be getting an email from me shortly.
And the winner of The Beast duology is…
Congratulations! You should be getting an email from me shortly.
Posted by Alianne on July 21, 2012
It’s Wednesday and I don’t know about you, but Wednesdays for me are crazy hectic. I just updated the descriptions for Bastien and The Beast. For everyone confused about what’s going on in The Beast, there is now a note pointing to Bastien as the prequel. Which, it is. =)
And now, having accomplished that, I thought I’d have some fun! So I am holding a giveaway contest for a copy of both Bastien and The Beast.
Leave a comment below and tell me your favorite thing about summer. Contest ends Friday at midnight PST. I will announce the winner on Saturday.
Posted by Alianne on July 18, 2012
Once upon a time, there was a handsome prince who screwed with the wrong Faery princess. And because he was too much of a butt hurt to let an old grudge go, he came to me. He should have known better.
See, I like numbers. And celestial events. Also magic, fairy tales, wicked, wicked bad guys, tragic heroes and the kind of heroines I would want for a best friend. But the prince didn’t know all this when he took up residence inside my cranium. Nope, all he knew was that he wanted a memoire. And a portrait. And PR.
Me? I like the number three. So I gave him three chances to redeem himself, and when he didn’t, three females to drive him insane, three nights a month to reflect on what he’d done, three hundred years to grow up and take responsibility for his actions, and one final chance to save his soul. Aren’t I a generous Faery Godmother?
When it came time to let him loose upon the world, I chose May 5th, 2012. 5+5+2+0+1+2 = 15, a number perfectly divisible by three. That it just so happened to be a full moon-and the biggest, brightest one of the year, to boot- was just a coincidence. No, really, it was. But I take it as a sign that the universe had aligned itself in favor of my poor, cursed prince. I have to say, after all I put him through he sort of deserves a royal send-off.
So here I sit today, exhausted after a late night getting him ready for his debut, and early morning when I couldn’t sleep, trying to think of something profound to say about my darling (note the sarcasm) Bastien. I keep thinking something along the lines of, “Pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory lasts forever,” but that just wouldn’t be his style. So I suppose I should just let him speak:
The first rays of sunlight turn the world gray, then warm yellow, then all the colors of the rainbow. I watch the warmth of its rays touch my human skin, breathe in deep of the morning air and feel life, glorious, invigorating life, seep into my very soul. It is day, and it is my time. Night belongs to fairy tales. Well, perhaps that would be me as well. I hear whispers of awe, sense dozens, hundreds of hungry eyes on me. They want me, one and all. The knowledge makes me chuckle. I meet each gaze in turn and smile. “Come and get me.”
Posted by Alianne on May 5, 2012
This will be the final excerpt for Bastien. To find the previous chapters, click on these: Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three. If you want to read more, look for Bastien at Smashwords.com on Saturday, May 5. I will also post a link on my website. And without further ado, here is chapter four. Enjoy! =)
Louis leads the way through town. The village of Fauve is far removed from this place, yet I could easily call it home. Cobblestoned streets weave between buildings tall enough to have three rows of windows. No thatched roofs here, all are covered with sturdy shingles.
We walk at a brisk pace. There are still merchants about, finishing their final tasks of the day and closing their shops for the night. They are not welcoming of our presence, but as long as we don’t disturb them, the townsfolk are willing to tolerate us for the coin we always leave in our wake.
Louis leads us all the way to the edge of town, where the cobblestones level out into stomped dirt and the houses become smaller and older. Not far off is a Gypsy village. I can hear the drums and fiddles from here. This is as near civilization as the Gypsies are willing to come. Many still wander in the way of their people, but most have settled here, in wagons turned into shacks, built up into what might pass for an abode. Fires are lit in the distance, perhaps some sort of celebration. Of what, I don’t know. Then again, Gypsies don’t usually need a reason.
We stop before a shack consisting of four separate walls held together by rope and covered with oiled cloth. In front of the curtain which serves as a door sits a hunched woman in a cloak. An old barrel stands as her table, and on top of it is a deck of cards. Her hood is so large it covers her face. I see nothing of her except her hands, one smooth and young, the other gnarled and old.
“What is this, Louis?” I ask, unnerved by the sight of an old woman. “Have you suddenly developed a taste for the arcane?”
He laughs. “This is merely the…”
A single gnarled finger rises to point at my chest, and the air is suddenly too thick to breathe. The woman gathers her cards and places them face down on one edge of the barrel. They somehow hover nearly half over that edge without tipping over.
Adeline clutches my arm. “Bastien?” she says uncertainly. I can’t find my voice to reassure her.
“Is this part of the game?” Adrien asks.
“No,” Louis says. “Last time wasn’t… she didn’t…”
The hag slams her old hand on top of the barrel, demanding silence. With her young hand, she takes cards off the top of the deck and arranges them in a circle.
“Listen, we just want to enter,” Louis says.
The hag holds up a young finger in a staying gesture and indicates the spread with her old.
“What is she doing?” Adeline asks, half hiding behind me. Under normal circumstances I would laugh at her and extricate myself from her hold. At the moment, I am too unsettled to speak a single word. The hag pointed at me, she is looking at me. Whatever fortune she is about to divine is mine. I don’t want to see it. With everything in me I dread the first card being flipped. But for the life of me I cannot look away.
The smooth hand of youth reaches gracefully for the card farthest from her and flips it. The card says Wheel of Fortune and at its center is a golden wheel of the Zodiac, with star constellations clearly marked around it. It’s upside down.
“It would seem the odds are not in your favor,” Louis says. He sounds bored.
I dare not breathe as the withered hand reaches for the second card in the circle. Judgment. Also reversed. A set of scales tipped on one side mocks me from the makeshift table and as I am staring at it, the wheel in the first card breaks before my eyes. This is a hallucination. It must be. I am drunk, or perhaps it’s a trick of light and the wheel was never whole.
A lump forms in my throat and I cannot clear it. I choke on the next forced inhale as the third card is turned. The Hermit. Nothing more than a hooded figure, hunched the same way as this hag who presumes to know my destiny. And the scales of Justice tip the other way.
I can’t blink, or turn away. My companions are gone. I am alone in the night, the darkness drowning me in this magic. There is nothing but me, and the cards, and the hands turning them. My gaze is rapt on the next card to be turned over. The Moon. All the faces suddenly shift, moving now with a life of their own and, while the moon changes phases, the hunched figure of the hermit grows and tears at its cloak, revealing a monster underneath.
My heart races, aching in my chest, and I can hear my own breath wheeze in and out of me on a feral growl. The hag pauses with her smooth hand hovering over the fifth card. She waits as though for divine guidance, her hooded head cocking slightly to the side. She dips a slow nod and flips the card—Strength. A crimson rose blooms on it, its thorns long and needle sharp. The hag’s hand passes over the card a second time and the rose is gone. In its place stands a woman, naked as the day she was born, yet standing tall and straight, looking right at me with a challenge in her eyes. I will not yield, her eyes say, and it makes me feel weak. She makes me feel weak.
A whirlwind rises around me, so powerful I’m afraid it will lift me off my feet, and I don’t understand how the cards can be so still on that barrel, so steady, as if my future is already written in stone and it’s only my denial that tries to make me stray from the path set out before me. I fight it with all of my might. There is wilderness ahead, danger I can avoid if only I turn my feet around and go back the way I came.
The pull of destiny and my need to escape it tears me asunder, and in my mind I scream for the hag to turn the last card. Finish this—save me somehow.
She does, and everything stills once more. Breath leaves me, as desperate to escape as my own soul. The card is Death. The salvation I demanded stares at me from black holes in a bare skull. This card doesn’t move; doesn’t change. It is absolute.
The previous fervor of my heartbeat stops completely and I clutch my chest, the barrel, anything to regain some semblance of steadiness. As my heart lurches back to life, I tear my gaze away from my own demise and just catch a glint of obsidian in the hag’s eye through a hole in her hood. I find no sympathy there.
“Right,” Louis says. “This has been entertaining, but we’ve tarried long enough.” The hag turns to him as he reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out a card of his own. Holding it up for the hag to see, he places it into the center of the barrel. Ten of Pentacles.
The hag straightens and becomes all business, pointing to each of us in turn before tapping the card on which ten silver coins glint merrily. The toll must be paid before we are allowed to pass. Each of us pays the coin she demands and only after she’s pocketed her due does she rise from her seat and pull aside the curtain door.
Louis grins. “After you,” he invites.
The women pair off with the men and enter arm in arm through the door. Adeline, who released me and took shelter in Adrien’s arms when the Death card was flipped, looks back at me before she disappears through the door. Only Louis and I are left. I hesitate before stepping through the veil. I try to catch the hag’s eye, but can no longer find it in the shadows of her hood. She is a statue, as still and uninterested as stone.
Having no other choice I step into the darkness of the shack…
… and emerge on the other side into blinding light. For a moment I can see nothing but bright colors swirling around me. I hear voices as delicate as bell chimes and music as sweet as honey mead. I am not in the Gypsy village anymore, nor any other place in existence. Before me is a dream, a fantasy given shape.
Behind me, Louis claps me on the shoulder. “My lords and ladies of the Fellowship of Depravity,” he says, “Welcome to the Faery court.”
Posted by Alianne on May 2, 2012
And now, for your reading pleasure, chapter three of Bastien. If you’ve missed the previous ones, check out Chapter One and Chapter Two. There will be one more chapter posted next week before the release on May 5. Enjoy!
Our usual haunt is The Howling Monkey. It is an establishment of questionable repute, to be sure, but the tavern is always well stocked and the inn’s rooms are decently appointed and usually clean. The owner, a pot-bellied, balding man with half his teeth missing, greets us as soon as we enter. He knows us—we pay well for his silence.
“I see you’ve invited more company,” I tell Louis, seeing a number of familiar faces among the patrons here.
“The more the merrier,” Louis assures me. He has, in fact, invited several more of his circle. I find no fault with his choices.
Young Firmin has an ill advised penchant for gambling, not that any of us ever bother to advise. He always knows where the players are rife for fleecing. It is his execution that usually falls short. Even now he has his marked deck of cards laid out on the table, practicing sleight of hand which will get one of his appendages cut off at some point.
Gaspard and Edgard are twin cloth merchants who spend their days ogling half naked women through a peep hole. They are young enough to be shy around females, and for that I am inclined to overlook their deviance. Though I have offered to introduce them to women well versed in handling inexperienced men, they obstinately insist they can find their own whores.
Adrien is the reasonable one of the lot. Besides me, he can most easily talk us out of trouble with the more respectable denizens with whom we share this world. Unbeknownst to said denizens, he is also the most wicked, with proclivities even I sometimes question.
And then there are the ladies of our company. Liliane, Honorine, Brigitte, and Adeline. One lovelier than the next. Wicked, wicked creatures the lot of them. I could paint their bodies with my eyes closed—and have, on occasion, done just that. Liliane and Brigitte are femme fatales in the making. The moment their fathers are gone and buried, I fully expect them to go gallivanting into the world without a care for consequence. Adeline makes true the saying that quiet waters run deep. She keeps her own counsel because she stutters when she finds herself the center of attention. What she lacks as a conversationalist, she makes up for with ardor. A brilliant strategist, in bed and out of it. True to her name, Honorine is a virgin. We allow her among us because … well, I’m not quite sure why. She is a tease of the vilest kind. I suppose that endears her to me quite a bit.
“The Fellowship of Depravity convenes once again,” I note.
“Bastien,” Liliane greets with a saucy grin and wink.
I bow to them all, and when Adeline offers her hand, I take it, pull her close and kiss her cheek. “Good evening, my Lord,” she says.
“Good evening, my dear,” I reply.
The serving wenches load our table with ale, obliging us to stay a while. It would be rude to refuse, and so we amuse ourselves until nightfall with drink and a friendly game of cards. We do not play for money but for favors. Rarely does anyone collect on them. If we did, Firmin would be my slave for the rest of his life, and I would have to clean out Louis’ stables for a year.
The men may know their tricks, but it would take a stronger man than any of us to keep his focus against the wiles of our womenfolk.
My hand is good, and with a little playacting I can convince the others that it is even better. I am preparing to do so when Honorine says, “I want to raise the wager.” Just the way she says this has all of us rapt on her. She smiles and traces the neckline of her low cut gown. “I wish to wager my virginity.”
The rest of the ladies fold, whispering their jokes behind raised hands, casting wicked looks at us men. Six of us against Honorine now. It is obvious she doesn’t intend to win. Adrien winces and pointedly places his cards on the table face down. “Gentlemen, good luck.”
Honorine narrows her eyes at him but doesn’t comment.
Firmin loses the next hand and is disqualified. Louis and Edgard beat out Gaspard and my hand takes out Louis. Honorine is still in the game. The next hand I am dealt is shite. Which is not to say I cannot win, only that it will take considerable effort. Edgard is sweating and Honorine is looking at me the way I’ve seen her covet a pastry she cannot have.
If I bluff, I can eliminate Edgard and play Honorine alone. The question is whether the prize would be worth the effort. And, should the unlikely happen and I lose, what will she demand as her due? The thought of putting the little trouble maker in her place is tempting enough that, for a moment, I contemplate making a real play for her. It only lasts for that moment. As enjoyable as it would be to knock Mademoiselle Saintly off her pedestal, I can already see resentment on the faces of the others. She will never acquiesce to anything less than an honest tryst and no sooner than on her wedding day. This is all a ploy to get us riled and sic us against each other.
A woman was never worth the price of friendship.
I play perhaps the first honest game of my life. No tricks, no cheats. I play the hand I was given, knowing I will lose. Edgard’s hand takes the game and I am out. I feign disappointment and remove myself to the bar for a stronger drink while they finish the final round.
Adeline follows me. “He is a fool,” she says. “I am glad you let him win.”
“You presume me immune to Honorine’s charms?”
“I know you to be.” Her fingers travel over my arm. “Innocence was never a lure for you, not even m-mine.”
Adeline was an innocent the first time she rode alone through the night, slipped into my castle and beneath my bed sheets. Innocent in body, perhaps, but in no other way. I was the one seduced. The reminder makes me chuckle. I take her fingers in my hand. “I’ve always wondered just how innocent you really were,” I say. “And what precisely did you tell Honorine about that night to make her stoop to this?”
Surprise, guilt, and finally hurt flash in her lovely eyes. She masks them quickly with an easy smile. “A right p-p-proper bastard you are. It is your good fortune that you are this handsome; otherwise, no one would be able to t-tolerate you at all.”
I salute her with my glass. “But you did not contradict me.”
A cheer goes up when Edgard wins. We both turn to watch everyone congratulate him while Honorine sits quietly possessed with her hands in her lap. Not surprisingly, the moment the rowdy group quiets, Honorine demurs and begs release from her wager.
Bastards we may be, but beasts we are not. Faced with a lady’s—and I use the term lightly—distress, Edgard relents.
Honorine smiles with relief and gratitude. She has no notion of what enemies she just made of all of us.
Adrien clears his throat. “It is time,” he says. “Shall we say our prayers now or later?”
Louis waves him on, and the rest of us bow our heads.
“Dear God, we humbly ask that you grant us wisdom to find trouble where it hides, strength to venture forth into it, turn of phrase to ease those disturbed sensitivities which can be eased, and coin to pay off those which cannot. Forgive us for the sins which we are about to commit and for not including you in them.”
My mouth twitches with suppressed laughter. I solemnly intone, “Your prayers are heard. Go forth and sin, my children.”
“Where shall we do our sinning?” Brigitte asks eagerly.
“That, my dear, is a surprise,” Louis answers. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. No, this is something you all must see for yourselves.”
Adeline shivers and loops her arm through mine. “I do love a good mystery,” she says.
“Fellows, let us take the night by the horns!”
Posted by Alianne on April 25, 2012